Early Life

Prince Salim, later Jahangir, was born on 31 August 1569, in Fatehpur Sikri, to Akbar and Jodha Bai. Akbar’s previous children had died in infancy and he had sought the help of holy men to produce a son. Salim was named for one such man, Sheikh Salim.

Akbar made Salim a Mansabdar of ten thousand (Das-Hazari), the highest military rank of the empire, after the emperor.

Jahangir The Fourth Mughal Emperor
Jahangir The Fourth Mughal Emperor

He independently commanded a regiment in the Kabul campaign of 1581, when he was barely twelve.

Emperor raised his Mansab to Twelve Thousand, in 1585, at the time of his betrothal to his cousin Rajkumari Man Bai, daughter of Bhagwant Das of Amer.

The marriage with Man Bai took place on 13 February 1585. Jahangir named her Shah Begum, and gave birth to Khusrau Mirza.

In the year 1594,  the Mughal Emperor Akbar dispatched Prince alongside Abul Hasan Asaf Khan to defeat the renegade Vir Singh Deo of Bundela and capture the city of Orchha. The victorious Jahangir, at 26 years of age, ordered the completion of the Jahangir Mahal a famous Mughal citadel in Orchha to commemorate and honour his victory.

He then gathered his forces under the command of Ali Kuli Khan and fought Lakshmi Narayan of Koch Bihar. Lakshmi Narayan then accepted the Mughals as his suzerains. The Emperor gave him the title of Nazir.

Prince Salim as Emperor

Prince Salim forcefully succeeded to the throne on Thursday, 3 November 1605, eight days after his father’s death emerging victorious in the vicious struggle for succession between the five prominent and legitimate sons.

Salim ascended to the throne with the title of Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir Badshah Ghazi and thus began his 22-year reign at the age of 36.

Jahangir soon after had to fend off his own son, Prince Khusrau Mirza, when the latter attempted to claim the throne based on Akbar’s will to become his next heirs.

Jahagir defeated Khusrau Mirza in 1606 and confined in the fort of Agra. Jahagir partially blinded Khusrau Mirza as punishment for rebellion.

Jahangir considered his third son Prince Khurram (future Shah Jahan), his favourite. In 1622, Khurram murdered his blinded elder brother Khusrau Mirza in order to smooth his own path to the throne.

Rise of Nur Jahan

Emperor married the extremely beautiful and intelligent Mehr-un-Nisaa (better known by her subsequent title of Nur Jahan) on 25 May 1611. She was the widow of Sher Afgan. Mehr-un-Nisaa became his indisputable chief consort and favourite wife immediately after their marriage.

Jahagir and Nur Jahan
Jahagir and Nur Jahan

She was witty, intelligent and beautiful, which was what attracted Emperor to her. Before being awarded the title of Nur Jahan(‘Light of the World’), she was called Nur Mahal(‘Light of the Palace’).

Her abilities are said to range from fashion designing to hunting.

Jahangir posted Islam Khan I to subdue Musa Khan, an Afghan rebel in Bengal, in 1608.

War of Conquest

Under Jahangir, the empire got attuned to conquest and expansion. Jahangir’s most irksome foe was the Rana of Mewar, Amar Singh, who finally surrendered in 1613 to Khurram’s forces.

In the northeast, the Mughals clashed with the Ahoms of Assam, whose guerilla tactics gave the Mughals a hard time.

In 1613, the Portuguese seized the Mughal ship Rahimi, which had set out from Surat on its way with a large cargo of 100,000 rupees and Pilgrims.

Portuguese behavior outraged Jahangir and he ordered the seizure of the Portuguese town Daman. Soon he ordered the apprehension of all Portuguese within the Mughal Empire; he further confiscated churches that belonged to the Jesuits.

He also thought of capturing Kangra Fort, which Akbar had failed to do in 1615. Consequently, Mughal laid a siege and the conquered the fort in 1620. The district of Kistwar, in the state of Kashmir, was also conquered.

But in 1620, emporer fell sick, and so ensued the familiar quest for power. Nur Jahan married her daughter to Shahryar, Jahangir’s youngest son from his other queen, in the hope of having a living male heir to the throne when Jahangir died.

Prince Khurram Rebellion

In 1622, Jahangir sent his son Prince Khurram against the combined forces Deccan Sultanate. After his victory Khurram turned against his father and make a bid for power. As with the insurrection of his eldest son (Khusrau Mirza), Jahangir was able to defeat the challenge from within his family and retain power.

In 1626, Jahangir began to contemplate an alliance between the Ottomans, Mughals and Uzbeks against the Safavids, who had defeated the Mughals at Kandahar. He even wrote a letter to the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV. Jahangir’s ambition did not materialise, however, due to his death in 1627.

He tried to restore his health by visiting Kashmir and Kabul. He went from Kabul to Kashmir but decided to return to Lahore on account of a severe cold. Jahangir died on the way back from Kashmir near Sarai Saadabad in Bhimber in 1627.

Nur Jahan transferred his body to Lahore and buried him in Shahdara Bagh, a suburb of Lahore, Punjab. Prince Khurram succeeded him and took the title of Shah Jahan. Jahangir’s elegant mausoleum is located in the Shahdara locale of Lahore.

Historian widely considered Jahangir to be a weak and incapable ruler. Jahangir’s frequent withdrawal to a private sphere of life was partly reflective of his indolence, brought on by his addiction to a considerable daily dosage of wine and opium.

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